The “polar vortex” that delivered a dangerous blast of icy conditions and record-cold temperatures to much of the U.S. last week is being credited with helping to solve the five-year-old mystery of a lost wedding ring.
In Willowbrook, Ill., homeowners Tara Catogge and husband Ian Comes were battling frozen pipes and trying to noodle out why no water was flowing to their second-floor bathroom when Comes decided to clean out the U-shaped trap below the sink.
Amazingly, embedded in the gunk and “looking disgusting,” according to Comes, was a ring. No, this wasn’t just an ordinary ring. After they cleaned it up, they could see it was a diamond-and-sapphire wedding ring.
"It looked old and important to somebody, so that's when we started the search," Catogge told Chicago’s WGN.
Their investigation led them to the previous homeowners, Louise and Randy Hearne, who are now living in Colorado. Catogge was able to get a surprised Randy Hearne on the line.
“I asked [Randy] if Louise ever lost a diamond ring,” Catogge told WGN. “He said, ‘Oh, my God. Yes.’ And I asked if it has sapphires. He just kept gasping almost.”
Catogge learned that the previous homeowners lost the precious wedding ring five years earlier and had searched for it in vain. Louise and Randy assumed that it had been lost at a family gathering and was gone forever. Now they’re thrilled to get it back.
The ring was delivered to the Hearnes on Saturday and is now back where it belongs — proudly displayed on Louise’s finger just in time for the couple’s 40th anniversary celebration. Catogge included a heartfelt note with the package: "Louise, Hooray for ice storms! I am overjoyed at finding your ring and being able to return it to you. I trust the two of you will not be separated again..."
"I mean these things happen in the movies,” Catogge said. "It's almost a cliché that you find a ring in the drain in the bathroom.”
In the end, Catogge and Comes will always remember the “polar vortex” a little differently than their flash-frozen neighbors.
“We have nothing but the fondest feelings about this horrible ice storm. It's a happy New Year, indeed," she said.